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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Mode of Baptism

C.H. Cayce

December 12th 1905


Elder Cayce-Please give through the columns of The PRIMITIVE BAPTIST your views on (Matthew 3:11), and (Matthew 12:43-44,45). Do the words, “baptize you with water,”  mean that the element used was applied to the subject baptized, or the subject baptized applied to the element used? The above request was on a postal card addressed to our father, Elder S. F. Cayce, and was received only a short time before his death. So we will try to comply with the request by writing a few thoughts on the mode of baptism, for it is clear that what the writer of the card wishes to know is, did John baptize by immersion, or by pouring? The text he refers to reads, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”  (Mark 1:8); (Luke 3:16), and (John 1:26), all have the same expression, “baptize with water.”  If one of them means that the water was applied to the subject, they all mean that. If the expression in Matthew does not mean that the water was applied to the subject, then the others do not. The expression in Matthew must of necessity mean the same as the expression in Mark, for both refer to precisely the same thing. In (Mark 1:8), John says, “I indeed have baptized you with water.” The fifth verse says, “And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”  In the original (Greek) the same word which is translated “with” in the eighth verse-with water-is translated “in”  in the fifth verse-in the river Jordan. If the expression “with water” in the eighth verse means that he applied the water to them, or that he poured or sprinkled the water on them, then the fifth verse should read, “and were all baptized of him with the river of Jordan,”  because the word “with” in the eighth verse and the word “in”  in the fifth verse are both from precisely the same Greek word. John baptized them with the river of Jordan! How ridiculous! But it is not ridiculous if he applied the water to the subject. John baptized those people in water, for he baptized them in the river of Jordan-not with the river of Jordan, in the sense of applying the river to them. John immersed these people in Jordan. He immersed them in water. When he immersed them, they were buried and were completely covered with water. One does not have to apply the water to the subject to bury or immerse the candidate. The word “with” does not necessarily mean that the element is applied to the subject. Let us prove that. Take your knife now, and lay it down, with the blade open. Now strike the edge of the blade with your finger-that is, apply your finger to the blade with force. Now what have you done? Cut your finger? Yes. What did you cut your finger with? The knife? Certainly; but you did not apply the knife to the finger. So, the expression “with water”  does not necessarily mean that the water is applied to the subject. (John 3:23) says, “And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there.”  If baptism may be performed by pouring or sprinkling a little water on a person's head, why the necessity for “much water?”  A small pitcher full of water would be an ample supply to pour or sprinkle a little on the head of a great many persons. But pouring or sprinkling is not baptism; therefore “John was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there.”  More than a pitcher full was needed for John to administer baptism, because he did not baptize by pouring or sprinkling. Hence he did not apply the water to the subject. He was baptizing where there was much water. He was immersing the people in the pools that were in Aenon near Salim. The word “baptize” is a Greek word, the word simply being transposed into English by changing the Greek to the English letters, the last letter being changed from the Greek “o” to the English “e.” Hence the word is Greek “baptizo,”  which is from “baptoi” and this means “to dip, plunge, immerse. So those people were “dipped,”  or “plunged,” or “immersed”  by John in the river of Jordan, or were baptized of him in Jordan. We do no violence to language if we take a word out of a sentence and put another word in its place that means the same thing as the word taken out. If we do this we are doing no violence, and are not changing the meaning of the sentence. The word sprinkle means “to scatter in drops or small particles.”  Now let us try the language, “And were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan.”  The sentence reads all right that way, and is found in (Mark 1:5). Remember, we do no violence by removing or taking a word out, and placing the true meaning of the word in the sentence in the place of it. So, “And were all dipped of him in the river of Jordan.”  The sentence still reads all right. “And were all immersed of him in the river of Jordan.”  It is all right yet. “And were all scattered in drops or small particles of him in the river of Jordan.”  The sentence is all wrong now. Why? Because baptism is not sprinkling; it is dipping, immersing. Read the account of the baptism of the eunuch in the eighth chapter of Acts and apply the same rule, and you will have it that Philip scattered the eunuch about in drops or small particles. He did not do this, but “they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch,”  and Philip “baptized him,”  dipped him, immersed him. Suppose some of your dear friends or near relatives were to die, and some person should carry their body to the cemetery and pour or sprinkle a little dirt on their head, and then say we have buried your relative or friend. Would you consider the people to be your friends who would do this? No; you would consider them as your enemies. Now read (Romans 6:4): “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death.” The apostle here plainly says we are “buried with Him by baptism.”  If we are buried by baptism, then baptism must be a burial-it must be an immersion. Anything short of a burial, therefore, is not baptism, for we are buried by it. Then as baptism is a burial, how can we claim to be Christ's friends when we say we baptize His friends who are dead to sin by sprinkling or pouring a little water on their heads? Let us prove our faith by our works. We have faith that Christ died, was buried, and rose again. Let us show that faith by being buried with Him by baptism, and arising to walk in newness of life. Much more might be written on the subject, but lack of time forbids us writing more now. May the Lord bless these thoughts to the good of our readers, is our prayer. C. H. C.